Home > Industrial, Legal > OSHA Cracking Down on Companies Not Reporting Accidents

OSHA Cracking Down on Companies Not Reporting Accidents

Last year the Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced  an initiative to crack down on employers  that cover up workplace hazards by failing to disclose many of their on-the-job injuries. Last week the agency showed that it is moving ahead on the issue. It proposed fines of more than $1.2 million in a case against a Houston-based company that, officials say, did not properly report 72 percent of its employee injuries and illnesses over more than a two-year period.

HOUSTON, TEXAS – The company, Goodman Manufacturing Co., came under investigation after the agency received a complaint about concealed workplace incidents at an air conditioning equipment plant in Houston.  OSHA said it eventually found that Goodman provided “grossly incorrect” information about the severity of workplace injuries from January, 2008, through March, 2010, and cited the company for 83 “willful violations.” According to the Houston Chronicle, the injuries included back, shoulder, neck and wrist strains, as well as respiratory illness, an eye injury and an instance in which an employee’s stomach was burned with Freon.

In a news release from OSHA, Labor Secretary Hilda L. Solis said, “Accurate workplace injury and illness records are vital tools for identifying hazards and protecting workers’ health and safety. Workers and employers need this information to recognize patterns of injuries and illnesses, and prevent future hazards.”

OSHA initiated its “National Emphasis Program on Recordkeeping” last year after studies showed a wide gap between the number of injuries reported by employers versus the totals drawn from other sources, such as hospital and workers compensation records. For example, in Michigan in 2007, official figures based on employer reports counted 160 work-related amputations, while academic researchers identified 708 cases.

Goodman, which said it would contest its citations, has been cited by OSHA previously. In October, 2004, the company agreed to pay $277,000 in penalties for workplace safety violations after an incident in which an employee lost an arm.

Separately,  OSHA last week also announced that it is seeking $3 million in penalties from Alabama’s Whitesell Corp., which makes components for cars and appliances. OSHA cited the company for tampering with the safety systems on its hydraulic presses in an incident that led to the amputation of an employee’s hand.

In addition, the agency on Tuesday said it is pursuing $160,500 in fines against Pilgrim’s Pride Corp., one of the nation’s largest chicken producers, for 29 health and safety violations at a plant in Russellville, Ala. Among other problems, OSHA said it found  unsafe batteries that exposed workers to acid burns and electrical shock, a lack of machine guards, unmarked fire exits and unsecured chlorine cylinders.

All three of the cited companies have 15 days to decide whether to contest OSHA’s findings and proposed penalties.

Story via FairWarning.org

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Categories: Industrial, Legal Tags: , , ,
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  1. October 14, 2010 at 7:13 am

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